The unjustifiable use of for by police in the process of law enforcement characterize the extensive concept of police brutality. In recent past, America as a society has witnessed increased cases of police brutality bordering on the physical assault, psychological intimidation as well as verbal intimidation. The theoretical implication of social issues demonstrates a lack of dependable social construct measure to address the brutality by the police. Historical analysis indicates the political, demographic and economic dimension that shift the practical understanding of police brutality. This paper discuss the theoretical understanding of police brutality, causes, prevalent cases and measures adopted in addressing the social problem.
The theoretical understanding of police brutality, as established from social conflict theory, explains the trajectory of using excessive force on citizens (Hickman, 2006). Historically, the question of police brutality has been cited as the reference point in the use of excessive force within the law enforcement agencies. The legal and political repression has been unable to deal firmly with cases of brutality from the police treating a number of such cases as criminal cases. According to Skolnick (2006), the environment that allows police brutality has formed the basis for defending police brutality with police chiefs citing the cultural norms and standards of addressing the instances of police brutality. The implication of this understanding demonstrates factors that are responsible for increased police brutality in the recent past.
The existing institution systems that trains law enforcers, the police culture, and the management of errand law enforcement offices summarizes the reason for the increasing tendencies of police brutality (Skolnick & Fyfe, 1995). Stetser (2001) further underscores that while the criminal justice system encourage the prosecutor to address the misdemeanor of police, the continued abuse of power manifest the arguments of social conflict theory. The failures in the political systems to structure measures to react to the needs of the public as well as the police in the event of racial profiling is the foundation driver of police brutality.
The prevalence of police brutality on America recently points to a growing challenge within the law enforcement as well as criminal justice system. According to Weitzer (2002), data on the use of force by police officers is not commonly available. This implies that the US Department of Justice on police brutality paints a picture of the existence of racially inclined police brutality. Data published reveal that about 500000 individuals between the ages of 16-0 years have been brutalized by the police encountering the threat of the police force (Hickman, 2006). These statistics reveals that the measures of the prevalence of police brutality affect African American communities with individuals suffering from income disparity because they are in a position to address the civil rights criminal complaints.
Although many cases of police brutality are not reported by victims, a police survey commissioned by the Federal Government in 1982 revealed that approximately 14% of the participants revealed that they suffered verbal attacks, physical attacks, and disrespect when arrested by the police (Skolnick, 2002). These statistics confirms the study by Human Rights Watch where the number of those who file formal complaints related to police brutality were negligible owing to the racial, political culture in the country (Weitzer, 2002).
The increasing number of cases of police brutality can be attributed to the concept of federalism, separation of powers, burden of proof, deterrence, and discretion within the spectrum of encouraging police misconduct. The available evidence, as depicted by Skolnick & Fyfe (1995), demonstrate the loophole in the criminal justice system that chooses to overlook the existing methodological patterns of police brutality. This understanding supports the perspective that the administration of justice allows police to use force. In view of this, the general expectations of the police officers are to use force where and when it is necessary.
The principles of social conflict theory propose the suitable approach for handling complaints arising from victims of police brutality. The social discordance approach that focuses on the disorderly cases in the society demonstrates the feeling of power among the police of the society (Stetser, 2001). As a result, police officers continue to engage in cases of police brutality because they have developed attitudes of power under laws based on the conventional reaction enforcement model. The implication, therefore, portends a high inclination to brutality and excessive use of force.
Internal mechanisms of accountability which touch on the internal investigation processes can significantly address cases of police brutality. As a result, it is plausible to note that political culture, legal frameworks as a proactive citizenry must create an environment that promotes accountability mechanisms. The prediction of such realization will ensure a drastic decline in cases of police brutality. As Weitzer (2002) suggests, the use of force must be checked by internal mechanisms that use force continuum. This approach establishes the proper spectrum that guides the behavior of the police in the event of using excessive force. The power paradigm must conform to the civil governance of behavior established within the police department and anchored in the common and statutory law.
Hickman, M. (2006). "Citizen Complaints about Police Use of Force". Bureau of Justice Statistics. New York: Routlegde
Skolnick, J. H & Fyfe, J. D. (1995). "Community-Oriented Policing Would Prevent Police Brutality". In Winters, Paul A.. Policing the Police. San Diego: Greenhaven Press. pp. 45–55.
Skolnick, J. H. (2002). "Corruption and the Blue Code of Silence". Police Practice and Research 3 (1)
Stetser, M. (2001). The Use of Force in Police Control of Violence: Incidents Resulting in Assaults on Officers. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing L.L.C..
Weitzer, R. (2002). Incidents of police misconduct and public opinion, Journal of Criminal Justice, 30; pp. 397–408,